Running Black by Patrick Todoroff.
P. Todoroff has aimed high with his debut novel. He’s tried to pull together an accurate vision of the future, nanotechnology, loads of different characters, a thrilling plot and religion. And do you know what? He largely pulls it off.
The year is 2059, the North Korean mercenary Tam Song heads up Eshu International: the best black conflict outfit on the planet. Based in the Belfast Metro Zone, they take any job for the right price, no questions asked.
The Dawson-Hull Conglomerate has finally developed a viable Nanotech Neural Network (N3); an interface system that exponentially increases a person’s cyber-capabilities. They’re days away from unveiling the prototype to the world and Eshu International has been hired to steal it.
The story hits you in the face and gets you running from the beginning. We’re dropped straight in to Eshu’s attempt to steal the newly developed tech. This gives us a nice introduction to some of the characters in the book.
The blurb only mentions Tam, but some of the book is told from a first person point of view through Jace, Tam’s 2nd in command. The story handles the change between first and third well and Jace has got some of the best lines in the book. Look out for the Triplets and Major Eames too, they’re fantastic. The characters themselves aren’t explored to any great depth but the plot is enough to keep the story going.
Todoroff tries to make his vision of the future entirely believable with mega-corporations running their own private armies and cities like Belfast and Barcelona becoming giant Metro Zones. After speaking to the author this is something that he has put a great deal of thought into and with this being a near-future book this really adds to story, making it feel authentic.
The book also has a strong religious theme throughout and the characters are constantly asked to question their own actions against religious principles. This would be so easy to get wrong in a book with a future setting, but it’s subtle enough to let you ask the questions without it intruding into the story. The religious element is not something you usually see in sci-fi novels so it was actually quite refreshing to read.
What brings all these different characteristics together is Patrick Todoroff’s excellent writing. It engages you from the beginning and he can write tension into his story without literally having to write “the situation was tense”. There are times when you are the edge of your seat and others when you’re on the edge of crying (I didn’t cry…I was close).
Overall it was a fantastic book and definitely worth a look. There are others on the way for Eshu International and I very much look forward to them. A well deserved 4/5.
You can found out more about P. Todoroff’s writing on his blog at http://pattodoroff.com/.